Islam and Natural Law

Father Jerry Pokorsky | June 2, 2017 | 4:21pm EDT
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In the name of human rights and religious freedom, many religious leaders are putting pressure on Western leaders to effectively implement “open borders” immigration policies.  But what does it mean to practice one’s religion freely and claim it as a “human right”?  In response, the distinction between religious worship and morality is practical and determinative.

Every child knows it is wrong to disobey mom and dad or fight with his brothers and sisters before he studies the Ten Commandments in religion class.  When I asked one child to explain the need for the Ten Commandments as revealed by God, he responded, “To remind us.”  Exactly!  The Ten Commandments are natural to us.  It is natural to have the impulse to worship God, respect our elders while avoiding murder, adultery, theft and lying.   The Ten Commandments are written on the hearts of all men.

The Founding Fathers through the Declaration of Independence and later, the U.S. Constitution provide us with a distinct and coherent practical code of conduct. Indeed, the Founding Fathers’ discussion of the role and practice of religion as well as the discussion of civil rights and duties are quite compatible with the Ten Commandments, if not implicitly based on the Decalogue.  This shouldn’t be surprising.  The Founding Fathers were culturally steeped in Judeo-Christianity and influenced by the natural law philosophical heritage of Western Civilization.

The American experiment also includes the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... .”  By avoiding the conflation of religion and governance, the Founding Fathers wittingly or not, took the advice of Jesus to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” (Mark 12:17)  The Fathers thereby set up a system designed to avoid religious wars with a “live and let live” approach to worship.

In view of the Islamic roots of the vast majority of contemporary acts of terrorism, it is reasonable to ask potential Muslim immigrants certain specific questions.  The questions are not litmus tests of religious worship.  The litmus test is whether the moral and political beliefs and conduct of a Muslim are compatible with the natural law tradition of Western Civilization and our country.

Pope Francis has exhorted his flock to love Muslims.  And love Muslims we must.  But love is inseparable from truth.  Hence, it is an act of Christian charity to understand the truth of Islam and to honestly assess its authentic practice. 

It is only fair – and charitable – to ask prospective Muslim immigrants direct questions that have a bearing on living in our country in peace and personal integrity:

1. How does a potential Muslim immigrant view jihad or “holy war” against infidels?  If jihad merely represents the spiritual battle in overcoming one’s godlessness, there would seem to be no problem.  (He might, however, be in bad odor with the majority of the world’s imams.)  But if there’s a literal acceptance of jihad that effectively calls for the violent overthrow of the “infidel” United States, not only should the prospective immigrant be rejected, an American citizen holding similar views – like the Communist conspirators of yesteryear – should be considered subversive by the authorities.

2. Does the Muslim candidate for immigration believe in the legitimacy of taharrush?  It is the practice of permitting the sexual abuse of infidel women (including groups of men surrounding and sexually assaulting infidel women in public).  It seems to be justified in the Koran:  “And forbidden [sexual intercourse] to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands [as prisoners of war] … (The Quran in Sura 4:24; Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319). (See also Suras 4:3 and 33:50).  The question is reasonable because the shocking number of group assaults on women in Europe by Islamic immigrants are presumably justified by taharrush.

3. Does the Muslim candidate for immigration believe in shariaSharia is Islamic law governing Muslims and the entire legal order.  Apparently, there are immigrant neighborhoods in London that are governed by sharia.  If a potential immigrant holds to the doctrine of sharia (as commonly understood), it is reasonable for American authorities to refuse entry.

4. In connection with sharia, does the Muslim candidate for immigration believe in honor killings and capital punishment for apostasy from the Islamic faith?

5. Does the Muslim candidate for immigration believe in dawaDawa is the Islamic doctrine of imposing sharia by the “long march” of subversion.  Matthew Hanley explains:  “Dawa can be likened to proselytizing, but it is much more than that. It might be summed up as the insidious project to Islamize the world – as cultural imperialism bent on corroding Western liberties and ultimately imposing sharia law. It is an all-encompassing precursor to jihad, a summons to conquer non-violently and utilizes any number of mechanisms to achieve that end” (The Catholic Thing, May 31, 2017).

6. Does the Muslim candidate for immigration believe “taqiyya”?  Taqiyya is a form of lying specifically permitted to advance the cause of Islam.  A collection of Koranic passages makes it clear that there are many situations when a Muslim may be "compelled" to deceive others for a greater purpose.  It is one of the tenets of the Koran and Muslim practice (we sometimes hear how Muslim parents teach their children when and how to lie).  But it makes it impossible for one to take the oath of citizenship, and it is a direct violation of the Eighth Commandment.  Indeed, in some respects, taqiyya is a game changer.  A Muslim can by the rules of his religion tell an infidel anything to advance the Islamic cause.

A “good Muslim” does not believe and practice the moral anomalies outlined above.  He is essentially the same as a “good Christian” or a “good Buddhist” or a “good Hindu.”  He is someone who at least implicitly accepts the natural law of the Ten Commandments as normative (as little children do even before they are taught the Commandments) and worships according to the dictates of his conscience. 

Our political rulers need not interfere with the various forms of religious worship or deny immigration on these religious grounds.  But all law “legislates” morality.  And if the morality of a religious believer (or anyone for that matter) from another country significantly departs from the morality of our natural law tradition, immigration should be denied. 

Special immigration procedures based on the specific profiles of a subversive religious ideology are perfectly reasonable and just.   But perhaps the widespread American disregard of the Ten Commandments – and our tradition of natural law – has made it difficult for us to protect our country from violent Islamist interlopers.  We may be afraid to look inward and discover that many of our own laws are at variance from those written by God on our hearts.

Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia.


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